On a bitterly cold day, Warwickshire’s seam bowlers made excellent use of a green tinged pitch that offered bounce and movement. They dismissed Derbyshire for 189; and although Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes fell in the first over for nought before bad light ended play early, the home side will feel that they had the better of the day.
Undoubted star of the show was Liam Norwell whose five wicket haul cost him just 32 runs. He bowled with constant hostility, maintaining an excellent line and length and troubling all the batsmen. Having been plagued by injury since joining Warwickshire from Gloucestershire, he will surely be hoping to maintain full fitness this season.
Norwell was backed up by Oliver Hannon-Dalby who was unlucky not to take more than two wickets.
The Derbyshire innings would have been a truly sorry affair had it not been for a fifth wicket stand of 93 in 22 overs between Luis Reece and Matt Critchley. Each reached a half century in contrasting styles, Critchley’s full of sweetly timed drives and coming in just 58 balls whereas Reece faced twice that number of deliveries. At one point, Critchley feasted off some poor length deliveries from Craig Miles in striking four consecutive boundaries.
The Warwickshire seam bowlers were well supported by their close catchers. Tim Bresnan and Sam Hain both showed sure hands in the slips, but it was Rob Yates who took the catch of the day when he dived full length to his right at third slip to remove the dangerous Wayne Madsen.
It was hardly a pitch made for debutant left arm spinner Danny Briggs but, disappointingly, he showed few of the subtle variations of flight that Bears fans have grown used to seeing from Jeetan Patel. He did manage to end the last wicket partnership of 25, the third highest of the innings, when Sam Hain took a sharp short leg catch to dismiss Sam Conners.
At the start of the day, Derbyshire made a disastrous start. On a pitch that looked to have a tinge of green, Liam Norwell worked up a lively pace. Billy Godleman edged a lifting delivery and was athletically caught behind by Michael Burgess. It became a double wicket maiden when Anuj Dal was bowled. Oliver Hannon-Dalby was equally impressive and bowled Leus de Plooy to make Derbyshire a dismal 7-3.
Luis Reece and Wayne Madsen battled away and took the score to 50 before Hannon-Dalby, having switched ends, found Madsen’s edge and Rob Yates took that spectacular catch.
After Reece and Critchley had both edged Norwell into the slips, there was little further resistance from the Derbyshire lower order until that last wicket stand.
Although the match may be affected by some rain tomorrow, plus the threat of April bad light lurking around each day, there is still a good prospect of a result. If the Derbyshire bowlers and fielders can match the high standards shown on day one by the home side, there is still all to play for.